Chanel as holiday conscious. The new trio dubbed Les Eaux de Chanel aims to suggest escape, be it for a few hours, a day, a weekend or for prolonged holidays. The perfumes are meant to be easy to carry, easy to handle in the palm of your hand and have been fitted with a new, more generous dispensing spraying system, which the brand says sends many more droplets your way - no doubt to counterbalance the affirmed lightness of being of these scents and create more sensory freshness. In-house perfumer Olivier Polge insists he's not so much interested in evoking precise locales - namely Venice, Deauville and Biarritz - as to suggest how positively pleasant it is to travel in mind to those places, thanks to the evocative power of fragrance...
Paris - Venise Eau de Toilette
Paris-Venise has quite unexpectedly something quite cute about it. It will remind you of the Coco lineage from within the house of Chanel, only more mignon, somehow; later on, you pick up on the Allure lineage as well. It is the most cosmetic of the three eaux, which receives the code name of "makeup pan" in our own mind. Polge says it's the most urban of the three scents - and you could agree with this characterization although all three are transplanted urbanites. It is true however that Paris - Venise is the one most evocative of the idea of a still voyage, one conducted in the intimacy of a home - and more particularly of a dressing room smelling of face powder emanating from the vanity table.
Coco eau de parfum the original stands as the emblematic perfume of founder Chanel's taste for Baroque style and Venice in Italy. But the tonality in Paris - Venise EDT is more childlike and unserious - and you might well think that this is due to an undisclosed pear note, which adds a touch of innocent fruitiness to the composition.
As it turns out, we're not too far off the mark: Chanel does mention the word "Baroque" when presenting Paris - Venise in their press materials.
The composition is a fruity oriental with a certain amount of pleasant stickiness to it. It is also, from a different vantage point, a lighter interpretation of the olfactive undercurrent running throughout the Cocos and Allures of the house, only with more aldehydes, powder (iris) and ambergris.
The aldehyde showcasing is especially noteworthy - perfumer Olivier Polge rather than to go in the direction of updated fizz and freshness is displaying them in their retro garb - very 1920s - except for that pear note made memorable in perfumery since Petite Chérie by Annick Goutal (worn by, who else but tough guy Michael Douglas). This fruit note reminds you also of a previous composition by Chanel, the No.18 in the Les Exclusifs collection, which features a drowned pear note of ambrette seed smelling of pear eau de vie.
The drydown imitates the air of the Laguna thanks to ambergris. But all things considered, what matters is that you get a fruity aldehydic signature which is both an homage to the house history and an attempt to rethink the eau genre around a different olfactive mood less often smelled these days, although Editions de Parfums did take a new look at them in Superstitious. Can you take a new look at aldehydes? Certainly, but they are often used as a note of nostalgia and old-school elegance, as is the case here, by the house which made these industrial smells more than acceptable, popular - and chic.
Paris - Deauville Eau de Toilette
A delicious citrusy opening is the stamp of Paris - Deauville, which soon morphs into a softer version of itself, mellower, more cushiony, while the subdued briskness of a vignette-like garden of the Hesperides continues to make its presence felt. Sicily and Calabria yielded crops of agrumes, which made their way into this fresh, crisp eau, the most kölnish-Wasser-like of the three.
On the face of it, it seemed at first that the composition would be the most predictable one, i.e., an eau borrowing most evidently from the genre of the eau de Cologne, but once you get into its development, it manages perhaps best to be unexpectadly winsome. The contrast between the perkiness, but also the refinement of agrumes and the velvety sheerness of the scent is simply put, well done, clear in intent and finally, authentically pleasant.
Vanilla as a counterpoint - in the drydown phase - to petit grain and other citruses, will recall to mind the classical reference that Shalimar by Guerlain is. It is however not a Shalimar Light but rather closer in spirit we would say to a vanillic Eau de Rochas at some level of its olfactive personality. There is this blanched impression, that crystalline backdrop, this austere character of an eau which drips through rock.
The perfume turns more ambery by the minute. This is an eau which will glow the color of champagne on your skin, while softening and cooling the contours of a harsh, overheated world.
Paris - Biarritz Eau de Toilette
Hmmm, unusual yet familiar, is your first impression. After a few seconds, there you have it, the gentle ghost of Clairol Herbal Shampoo inserted somewhere inside a woody-citrusy structure.
The fragrance is warm and woodsy evoking a solar energy of sorts. And then you remember that Biarritz stood as the symbol of an unique upbeat mood for the enterprising mademoiselle Gabrielle Chanel who opened her first couture house in the town in 1915, so taken was she by the energy coming from the surf and the commercial spirit of the place.
How to translate this idea of an energy of the origins that a creative mind like Chanel had experienced in her youth? It seems that Olivier Polge turned to subliminal notions of freshness - the herbs in the iconic Clairol shampoo - but also by extension, of cleanliness, and finally, to an invigorating contrast between woods and citruses. This is the most beach-like of the three eaux. Although not impressive at the outset, it actually leaves a more durable and lasting impression, somehow. It smells of a wet bathing suit in the bathroom of a luxury hotel, of a luxury soap and of sea-, sun- and surf-kissed skin. These days, it smells pretty perfect in a city where cooling breezes are lacking.
Do not expect brand new olfactive signatures with these eaux, but rather lighter, subtler touches of the Chanel olfactive codes, with here and there, novel nuances. While Chanel has an eau de cologne to propose in their Les Exclusifs collection, these eaux appear to fill a void where minimal urban elegance is needed, to be worn either while travelling in crowded quarters or meeting people who might object to too much perfume presence.
If Les Eaux de Chanel do not really suggest "infinite freshness" as advertized, they are on the other hand self-effacing scents, eminently polite and suave - in a good way - betraying only a belief in the less-is-more ethos.